MotoGP™ Basics

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Key Rules

An understanding of some of the basic rules of MotoGP™ World Championship racing adds to the enjoyment of any viewer watching Grand Prix, whether you are at the track in person or whether you are one of the millions keeping up with the action on television.

A full list of the entire FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix rules and codes can be obtained from the FIM’s official website by clicking here, while below you will find a couple of examples of some of the most important rules.

Breaking rules on track and/or ignoring flag instructions can result in various punishments for the riders depending on the seriousness of the infringement, namely: warnings, fines, ride through penalties, changes of race position, time penalties, disqualifications, withdrawals of Championship points, suspensions or exclusions.


The Ride Through Procedure penalty can be imposed on a rider if, for example, he has jump started and left his starting position before the red lights go off to signal the race has commenced.

During the race, the rider will be requested to ride through the pit lane and may then re-join his fellow competitors on track. Stopping is not permitted and the rider must respect the 60km/h speed limit in pit lane. In case of infraction of this speed limit, the ride through procedure will be repeated and in the case of a second infraction of this speed limit, the black flag signifying disqualification will be shown to the rider.

After notification has been made to the rider’s team that a ride through penalty is being imposed, a yellow board displaying the riders' numbers will be shown at the finish line and the information will also be displayed on the timekeeping monitors. Failure by the relevant rider to ride through, having been shown the board five times, will result in that rider being shown the black flag.

In the case where the race organisation has been unable to carry out the ride through penalty before the end of the race, the relevant rider will be inflicted with a time penalty of 20 seconds.


All races are categorised as either wet or dry by Race Direction (comprising representatives from FIM, IRTA and Dorna) before they start. A board may be displayed on the grid to indicate the status of the race. If no board is displayed, the race is automatically dry. The purpose of this classification is to indicate to riders the consequence of varying climatic conditions during a race, which of course affects their choice of tyres.

A white flag being waved at the flag marshal post during the race indicates that Race Direction has decided to declare a wet race after it was originally declared dry. In this instance riders may change bikes mid-race to those equipped with wet tyres, although thus far having been introduced in 2005 the white flag rule has only been enforced three times. This is what is commonly referred to as a flag-to-flag race.

The first instance at the GP of Portugal in 2005 took place so late in the race that the riders stayed on their dry bikes, but at the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island in 2006 and at Le Mans in 2007 the rain fell early and heavily enough to warrant a change of bikes which led to the dramatic spectacle of the entire MotoGP™ grid entering the pit lane mid-race to swap machinery.